Active children need to eat throughout the day to fuel their exercise. Skipping meals or not eating for several hours will make them feel sluggish, tired and irritable. Being prepared is important especially if your child is jumping from activity to activity. For example, if you’re taking your child to training, have a selection of fruit, yoghurt, low-sugar muesli bars, nuts and sandwiches in a chiller bag. And check their lunch boxes! Sometimes children are having too much fun playing and forget to eat.
Encourage family meal times
Healthy home cooked meals are the Holy Grail of good nutrition. There is no need to provide ‘kids food’ when they can eat the same food as the rest of the family – and it’s way more cost effective to prepare one healthy meal for everyone! A rule of thumb is to split their plate into a ¼ protein (e.g. meat, chicken or legumes), ¼ complex carbohydrate (e.g. wholemeal pasta, brown rice or potato) and ½ colourful vegetables. This will help them to rebuild and refuel, as well as support their growth and development.
It’s important for children to grow up eating the way they should for the rest of their lives. Use food as its found in Nature; for example, a carrot comes from the ground, an egg comes from a chicken and an apple comes from a tree. These types of foods provide a rich source of nutrients that should make up the majority of everyone’s diet.
Educate with school lunches
Children eat a large proportion of their meals and snacks at school. Include foods high in complex carbohydrate, such as low-sugar muesli bars, veges and wholegrain bread, as well as fruit and veges for long lasting energy. To keep them feeling full, include protein in a sandwich, such as chicken, beef and cheese, or add it as a snack, with things like boiled eggs, beef jerky and unsweetened yoghurt. Encourage them to make their own lunch – there’s no excuse then!
Kick start the day with breakfast
Children can be on the go as soon as they get out of bed in the morning. A nutritious breakfast energises them throughout the morning. Include carbohydrate and protein, such as porridge with milk, eggs on toast, or fruit and yoghurt.
Avoid sports drinks and other supplements
SuperKids are built on superfoods. With regular, balanced meals and nutritious snacks, children get all the nutrients and energy they need to support their development. Sports drinks shouldn’t be consumed by active children, especially if they’re exercising for less than an hour. These drinks can contain a whopping 50g of sugar per bottle! Other supplements, such as pills and capsules (e.g. multivitamins), are usually unnecessary as making the right food options can provide these nutrients and so much more!
What if your child is overweight?
Healthy eating and regular activity are the key to maintaining a healthy weight. However, in New Zealand, about 1 in 5 children are overweight. Children go through periods of growing out and growing up, but at all times promoting healthy habits should be a priority. It’s important to get the whole family on board as well to make it team effort.
Keep kids hydrated with water
No one can live without water, but we can live without soft drink, juice, energy drinks and other sugary fluids. Children should aim to have several glasses of water a day especially in hot and humid weather. Milk provides an excellent source of protein and calcium, which are important for muscle and bone growth.
It doesn’t matter whether your child is a sporting star or simply enjoys being active, good nutrition is important to help them become their best and enjoy themselves along the journey.
*Check what your school or childcare centre policy is on nuts. Some do not permit nuts or nut butters at schools due to children’s allergies.